It feels right, so it must be right, right?
Often in conversations, I hear some version of the phrase above. Many times, it is coming out of my own mouth. How many times have I said "it feels right" or "it feels wrong" or "I feel like..." or, well, you get the picture.
I mean, I have a lot of feelings. And it seems like everyone has a lot of feelings about everything these days. I even end up having feelings about other people's feelings.
Have our feelings gotten out of control?
Don't get me wrong. My no means am I protesting our ability to feel. In fact, I am all about the feels.
Give me any emotion and I could probably tell you a story of a time I cried because that emotion was just too much. Yes, that's me, I am a crier. I think it's how I handle all the feelings that build up inside of me. Because that's just it, I am a feeler.
And I'm not ashamed of it.
Why should I be? I'm human. Feelings are real. They are a part of human nature. Feelings were created by the Creator, who created all things good, and in fact, feels Himself. Even though sometimes I try and control my feelings or make them disappear, it doesn't dismiss their existence. No matter how many times I try and stop the feelings, I can't. They just keep on happening. I'm upset when treated unfairly, happy when brought flowers or donuts, hurt when betrayed, depressed when there is seemingly no hope. So instead of controlling them, I have decided to embrace them. After all, if Jesus embedded them into human nature, they must be around for a reason.
It is important to recognize and validate our feelings. If we do not give ourselves the space and freedom to feel whatever the feels are in the moment, we end up suppressing a part of life that was intended to be freeing. Not always a happy part of life, but a good part nonetheless. How we feel about something is legitimate, and we have to make sure we are okay with that.
But how we feel about something can't be and is not the end of the story.
You want to know a little secret? Feelings do not dictate truth.
Let me tell you a story. A night not long ago, my heart was devastated. It was one of those times that the feelings were too much to handle, and even crying didn't seem to release any emotion. I was with a friend, and she graciously let me cry while she listened to my words as I dumped every emotion onto the table. She encouraged me to say it all. After everything was out, she did two extremely important things.
First, she validated my feelings. She sat with me in the sadness, hurt, confusion, depression, and never once told me to get over it. She never said I shouldn't feel what I was feeling. It was a freeing moment that my heart needed.
But, the second thing she did was critical. She processed with me and asked the tough questions. Already, I had started to jump to conclusions based on how I felt. I had begun to make assumptions on what would happen in the future and had started to let sadness and hurt lead towards bitterness. My friend reminded me that although my feelings were legitimate, they were not what was necessarily true.
A man after God's own heart, David felt a lot. He was able to stitch words together that beautifully depicted human emotion, whether it was in reference to the agony of his mourning or the overwhelming emotion he experienced in response to God's creation. Either way, the man felt. And he felt a lot. He gave himself room to be honest with his heart. But, often, in the midst of his feeling, he came back to what he knew in regards to God's character. He circled back to truth. David praised God in the midst of his pain, his happiness, his hurt. David let his knowledge of the God he served become his source of truth rather than how he felt about his situation.
Did David always eloquently balance his feelings versus truth? Heavens no. In fact, there is a very famous story where David messes up big time. He knew what was and wasn't right, yet acted upon his feelings.
In the seasons of sin in my own life, it has been too easy to justify my decisions because it felt right. I got to a spot where I didn't care if the knowledge I had from God's word was worth following. How I felt about the situation trumped what I knew. Something interesting happened after awhile. Soon, my decisions of sin didn't feel so good anymore. Besides the destruction and selfish desires that continued to spring forth, a layer of shame and guilt covered my heart as well.
I watch a lot of people make decisions based purely on how they feel, and it saddens my heart. Not because I think that their decision is always wrong, but because I think they are missing out on something rich and good if they stop at how they feel. People begin to lay aside what God has to say about, well, everything, and instead, replace the truth with how they feel about life. At least I know I've done it.
When we react and base truth on feelings, we miss out on something bigger and better--God's truth. The bottom line of this truth? He loves us. He wants what is best for us. I know, sometimes it's hard to feel that, but that doesn't mean it's not true.
I certainly don't have it all figured out, and I'm still trying to learn how my feelings and truth can coincide. However, I have learned that my feelings are real and good, but they can also be dangerous if I don't come back to a standard of truth outside of how I feel.
Jesus said, "I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life". Regardless of how I feel, that never changes. Truth is absolute, not affected by how I feel. Tune in next week for more on that.